What We're Riding: Neil's Custom Holland

Frame: Custom Holland Gravel
Fork: ENVE Gravel Fork
Brakes: Shimano GRX
Drivetrain: Shimano GRX Di2
Pedals: Shimano XTR
Wheels: ENVE G23 w/ Berd spokes
Tires: IRC Boken
Stem: ENVE Road Stem
Handlebar: ENVE Gravel Handlebar
Handlebar Tape: ENVE Handlebar Tape
Seatpost: ENVE Seatpost
Bottle Cages: King Titanium
Extras: Lezyne Mega XL GPS

It’s only been about eight years since the only real option for gravel bike was to go through a custom builder since the larger industry brands were still not quite up to speed with the whole gravel phenomenon. We all know that’s not the case anymore, but that still didn’t stop ENVE’s Influence Marketing Manager, Neil Shirley, from wanting to go with the small builder Holland Cycles for his new gravel build. Based in San Diego, California, Bill Holland’s history in frame building goes all the way back to 1980 and encompasses just about every frame building material that has been popularized over the past 40 years.

Neil had a checklist of frame features that weren’t things he was willing to sacrifice on. “I wanted a bike that could run up to 700 x 44c tires, had mounts for a top tube bag, and something I didn’t have to worry about breaking if the airline got a little too crazy with my bike bag. Titanium just seemed to make sense. Holland’s gravel bike delivered the necessities, and the fact that I could go with custom geometry was just a bonus.”

The builder relationship was another reason Neil opted to go with Holland. “I met Bill probably around 15 years ago when I was living in San Diego and have always had a lot of respect for him as a builder, and as a cyclist. I hadn’t owned a metal bike in a couple of decades, and have never had one in titanium, so I figured it was time.”

Getting the frame exactly how he wanted it, then building it with Shimano’s new GRX Di2 and ENVE components, means that when it comes to the long list of gravel events on Neil’s calendar the equipment will be more than up to the task. “I took it out on its maiden voyage during the Officially Serious Bicycle Ride that Above Category put together on their home roads and trails around Mt. Tam. The unique ride quality of titanium blended with the purpose-built gravel components gave me so much confidence even on trails I had never ridden before. It was the perfect way to break it in while experiencing some entirely new riding terrain.”